20 NJ Communities Still Under Water Emergency After Mains Collapse

Main break at a Middletown facility forces changes for New Jersey American Water customers in Monmouth County

More than 20 communities along the Jersey Shore remain under a water emergency after three water mains collapsed at a treatment center Friday.

"Water pressure in the system is stabilizing right now, so it is critical that everyone stop all outdoor water use including watering lawns, shrubs or gardens, filling swimming pools, or washing cars," said Stephen Schmitt, vice president of operations at New Jersey American Water. 

Officials said it could be days before the water mains are fixed.

A wooden bridge collapsed and caused a pipe rupture at New Jersey American Water's Swimming River Water Treatment Plant in Tinton Falls on Friday afternoon. The reservoir, which has a daily capacity of 36 million gallons, was forced to close.

Roughly 160,000 people are affected by this failure, New Jersey American Water spokesman Peter Eschbach said. In addition to the outdoor watering ban, authorities are asking residents to use only water only for essential purposes.

"The principal concern is getting water and running to our customers," Eschbach said. 

A boil-water advisory that was in place over the weekend was lifted Monday but the water emergency continues.

Governor Christie said at a press conference Saturday that New Jersey American Water hopes to restore water within the next three days.

Eschbach told NBC 4 New York that the American Water Company is focused now on getting the mains fixed, and will worry later about the "forensics of why it broke."

Local residents who spoke with NBC 4 New York said the pipes looked distressed after Tropical Storm Irene, but Eschbach said they were in the process of a total fix and could not say if the storm caused any damage.

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